Category Archives: Smoky Mountain Cabin Rentals

Gem Mining in the Smokies – Turn Your Treasure into a Unique Work of Art

Gem Mining in the Smokies, Fun things to do in Bryson City NC, Yellow Rose Realty
This is a beautiful example of a cut star ruby

So, while enjoying your vacation cabin rental near Bryson City,  you went on a gem mining adventure and found a beautiful native ruby or sapphire. Now what do you do with it? The stones themselves are interesting to look at but to the untrained eye, they just look like any other rock! When cut and mounted, however, they can be truly spectacular!

There are many artisans in the area who will cut and mount the stones for you. Most mines will be happy to refer you to a gem artist /jeweler who is both dependable and talented. Here’s a link to one of our favorite artist jewelers. Keep in mind that the cutting process can sometimes take a few weeks, so your stone will most likely be shipped to you once you are back home. When a stone is cut, the artist must around imperfections and determine the type cut that will produce the most beautiful finished gem. The cut stone you receive will be much smaller than the stone you now hold in your hand.

Some mines in the area are noted for a particular type of sapphire and ruby that produce six-pointed star when they are cut into a cabochon shape, with a smooth, rounded top. These are called Star-Sapphires and are considered to be rare. The star is the result of tiny inclusions that react with light, giving it a beautiful, lustrous star pattern.

Jewelry made from gems you found yourself is special and fun to wear because it has a story and will always remind you of the wonderful time your had on your vacation in Bryson City or Cherokee, NC and your rental cabin from Yellow Rose. Happy polishing!

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Gem Mining in the Smokies – How it Works

Gem mining in the Smokies, Gem Mining Western North Carolina, Yellow Rose Realty Vacation Cabin Rentals, Thiings to do in the Smokies
Rubies!
While enjoying your vacation cabin rental in the heart of the North Carolina Smokies,  you may want to try your hand at gem mining. Our previous posts discuss what kind of gems you might find, where to go and what to bring with you. Now, let’s look at how it all works!

Times of Year To Go Mining: Most mines in the area are open from spring through autumn. While some mines charge a daily admission fee, most sell gem dirt by the bucket or bag. A few allow you to dig your own dirt from a specified area.

Two Types of “Dirt”: There are two different types of “dirt” you can get. Some mines have only “native” dirt, which means that you are getting a bucket of dirt straight from the ground in the mine. You may or may not find anything in it but whatever you do find is an authentic gem from Western North Carolina. Others have what they call “enriched” dirt in addition to native buckets. These buckets of dirt are “salted” with gems bought at shows. They most likely are not gems native to the area.

For beginners or for young children who want the quick payoff, an enriched bucket is really the way to go. The colorful stones are easy to see and exciting to find. For those with more experience, the native buckets are a great challenge.

Step 1: After deciding which type of bucket you want, it is time to get down to business. You will be provided with a sifter box; a wooden box with a screen on the bottom that lets water and dirt rush out but keeps your gems and rocks inside. Take your bucket and sifter box and have a seat next to the flume, which is a shallow trough with water running through it. The running water will help you wash the dirt of the rocks and stones in your bucket.

Step 2: Pour some of the dirt from your bucket into the sifter and place it in the water. Shake the sifter from side to side and move it up and down in the water to rinse away the dirt. If you have an enriched bucket, the job won’t be too difficult. Stones are clean when mixed into the dirt, so it will wash off easily. If you have a native bucket, it will take more time and effort. Rinsing the dirt off native stones is a bit more challenging and the gems are still surrounded by their matrix, a crusty gray protective barrier.

Step 3: Push large rocks aside and gather smaller gravel into a mound at the center of your tray. Push your hands down onto the pile and move it in a circular motion to help remove the dirt. Rinse your stones and rub again. Repeat the process until no more mud is visible on your hands. Spread your clean stones into one layer and look carefully for glints of lavender, pink or deep purple-red.  Don’t forget to check those larger chunks you set aside. Chances are they’re just rocks but you never know – there could be something amazing hiding within!

If it’s your lucky day, the mud will be washed away to reveal spectacular treasures in your sifter! Rubies are silky red; garnets reddish brown; and note that sapphires come in just about every color there is! Quartz, a favorite among gem hunters, is a smoky clear color. Mine staff are usually on hand to help show you what to look for because gem stones in their natural state look nothing like the brilliantly colored cut gems we see as the final product.

We hope you have a wonderful time on your gem mining adventure! There are a lot of gem mines in the area, many just a short drive away from Bryson City, NC and your vacation cabin rental from Yellow Rose. Happy hunting!

Gem Mining in Western North Carolina – Planning Your Adventure

Gem Mining in Western North Carolina, Fun things to do in the SmokiesThe first thing you need to do before setting off on your gem mining adventure is to decide where to go. There are many mines in the area to choose from (a short list is provided below). Some have native gems only while others have native and enriched buckets. A few mines let you dig your own dirt. Choose the mine that most closely matches the adventure you have in mind and make sure to get clear directions! While many mines are only a short drive away from your vacation cabin rental in the Bryson City or Cherokee NC area, relying solely on a GPS in the mountains has resulted in many a lost and frustrated tourist!  So, make sure to have written directions as well!

While it is possible to get through a bucket or two rather quickly, for most people, mining is an all-day affair. When planning your gem mining adventure, you will have a better time if you are adequately prepared.  Here are a few tips to help make your experience the best it can be!

Most mines are off the beaten path, so it is wise to pack a lunch and bring along plenty of water. Many have picnic areas for your convenience so you can leave your lunch in the car and just take a break when you are ready.  Gem mining is not a clean activity – you are going to get wet and muddy! The dirt is often a reddish color that can stain clothes, so it is best to wear old clothes and tennis shoes.  The ride back will be much more comfortable if you bring an extra set of clothes and shoes to change into before heading home. To protect the inside of your car from the mud, you may want to bring a plastic bag to put your wet shoes and clothes in. Although many mines feature covered flumes, it is wise to bring along a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen if it is sunny.  Some people choose to wear rubber gloves if it is particularly chilly (this is also a good idea if you are concerned about ruining your manicure!)  Sitting on narrow wooden benches for a long time can get a bit uncomfortable, so you might want to pack some old towels that can be folded up and used as a cushion.  While most mines provide plastic bags to for the gems you find, you may want to bring along your own zipper bag or plastic container. And of course, you will want to have a camera on hand to record that wonderful moment when you find your very own treasure!

There are many gem mines throughout Western North Carolina, with a majority located right in our mountain neighborhood! Following is a list of mines located in and around Franklin, which is known as the Gem Mining Capital of the World.  Yellow Rose Realty has vacation cabin rentals throughout the Cherokee and Bryson City area, including cabins on the way to Franklin. Most are within 15 minutes to 45 minutes from great gem mining. Happy hunting!

Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine

LOCATION: 6771 Sylva Road,
828-369-5271.

Gold City Gem Mine

LOCATION:
9410 Sylva Rd., ph 800-713-7767 or 828-369-3905

Jackson Hole Gem Mine

828-524-5850 – OPEN ALL YEAR

Mason’s Ruby & Sapphire Mine

828-369-9742. Located in the
Burningtown Community off Route 28 North.

Mason Mountain Mine & Cowee Gift Shop

LOCATION: 5315 Bryson City
Rd., ph. 828-524-4570.

Rose Creek Mine

LOCATION: 115 Terrace Ridge Dr.
For mining info call 828-349-3774.

Sheffield Mine

LOCATION:
385 Sheffield Farms Rd., ph. 828-369-8383.

The History of Gem Mining in Western North Carolina

Gem Mining in Franklin, NC, Fun things to do in the Smoky MountainsWhile visiting the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains, there are many great ways to enjoy nature while getting a little dose of local history. One fun and exciting way is to try your hand at gem mining!

Western North Carolina has a complex geologic history, resulting in rich deposits of beautiful gems and minerals that attract gem hunters, rock collectors, mineralogists and geologists alike. Thousands of people visit gem mines in Western North Carolina each year in the hopes of discovering their own unique treasures. Some truly incredible finds have been made over the years, including the 1070-carat Cherokee Chief Ruby and the world’s largest blue star sapphire. While there are mines throughout the area, the nearby town of Franklin, NC is known as the Gem Mining Capital of the World!

Sapphires and rubies are both variations of corundum. Second only to diamonds in hardness, corundum is used as an industrial abrasive. Commercial mining of corundum began in and around Franklin in 1870 and was an important industry for many years. Tiffany’s showed an interest in the area in the 1890’s but because a steady, consistent source of corundum could not be found, they did not set up operation. Commercial mining continued until synthetic corundum became a cheaper solution for industrial needs. The mines were abandoned and forgotten until locals and tourists became interested in them for mining their own rubies and sapphires!

We tend to think of sapphires as blue, but they can be green, pink, yellow and other colors. All colors of corundum are called sapphire except one: red corundum is always a ruby. Other precious stones commonly found in our area include garnet, amethyst, amazonite, beryl, jasper, moonstone, peridot, quartz, topaz, tourmaline, aquamarine and emerald. To learn more, visit the Franklin Gem & Mineral Museum, which offers free admission.

Your Bryson City or Cherokee vacation cabin rental from Yellow Rose Realty is only a short drive away from one of many gem mines in the area. Why not take some time to try your luck? Who knows, you may just have the next big find! Stay tuned for our next installment about how gem mining works. Happy hunting!

All The Things To Do In The NC Smokies

Welcome to our new blog and Things To Do In The Smokies event website.We know this area intimately, from years and years of living here and doing all the things we now offer you info about on this site.  The Bryson City – Cherokee NC side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the outdoor recreation capital of the Smokies. It is easy to see why! White water rafting, kayaking, lake touring, fishing, hiking, jetboat rides, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino for concerts, arts and crafts festivals and performing arts centers, and much much more are within minutes of our gateway town.

Start planning your Smoky Mountain getaway now with Yellow Rose Realty and take advantage of our inside track on things to do, upcoming events, and the best rental cabin deals here in the NC Smokies.   Visit our main website Yellow Rose Realty, to book cabin rentals and adventure packages, or find your dream real estate in the Smokies.